Blue Moon And Mars Opposition: What Does This Weekend’s Rare Celestial Event Mean?
This weekend’s rare celestial lineup of a blue moon and Mars opposition are great news for stargazers and amateur astronomers, but doomsdayers and astrologers fear it could be bad news for earthlings.
Saturday, stargazers will be able to see this season’s rare extra full moon and then, on Sunday, the red planet Mars will shine more brightly than any star in the night sky.
The full moon and Mars will be visible together in the sky all night long from dusk Saturday, May 21, until the dawn of Sunday, May 22.
There are normally three full moons during each of the four seasons, but this spring there will be four full moons with the third known as the blue moon. The extra full moon has also been known historically as the Full Flower Moon, the Full Corn Planting Moon, and the Milk Moon.
This rare celestial occurrence happens every few years with the next one scheduled for the 2017-2018 winter. While the moon won’t actually be blue, its appearance in the night sky is so rare it’s spawned its own catch phrase: “Once in a blue moon.” The other definition of a blue moon is a rare second full moon in a month, according to EarthSky.org.
“In both instances, the blue moon is a calendar oddity caused by the 19-year Metonic cycle.”
— Breaking Weather by AccuWeather (@breakingweather) May 18, 2016
Then, on Sunday, the Earth will be directly between Mars and the sun; astronomers call the placement of the red planet on the direct opposite side of Earth from the sun a celestial opposition. Mars will be noticeably redder in color and much more visible for the next few weeks and a medium sized telescope will allow stargazers to catch a glimpse of the details on the planet’s surface.
The red planet will be most visible when it reaches one third of the way between the horizon and the spot directly overhead; it won’t be this easily seen until the summer of 2018.
— MAVEN Mission to Mars (@MAVEN2Mars) May 19, 2016
Then, eight days later, Mars will be the closest to Earth than it’s been in the last 11 years; the two planets came closest in 60,000 years during the 2003 opposition, according to NASA.
“From our perspective on our spinning world, Mars rises in the east just as the sun sets in the west. Then, after staying up in the sky the entire night, Mars sets in the west just as the sun rises in the east. Since Mars and the sun appear on opposite sides of the sky, we say that Mars is in ‘opposition.'”
Some astrologers, however, are worried the appearance of the blue moon and the celestial opposition of Mars, signals that some type of cataclysmic doomsday event is about to happen on Earth.
Despite scientific proof to the contrary, common wisdom says full moons coincide with crazy events and strange behavior. While in astrology, the closer a planet comes to Earth the more influence it exerts over humans and with Mars edging closer to Earth some fear the worst is about to happen, according to the Vice Channels.
“Mars is the planet of war, and war can bring permanent endings and changes.”
With Russia and the West playing a dangerous game of chicken, the mounting immigration crisis playing out in Europe, and the rising threat from terror groups, it’s easy to see how a single shocking event could send mankind into a tailspin.
[Photo credit: NASA Youtube video screenshot]